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Flooding Woes Are on Tap for Snow-Buried Midwest

Winter’s woes aren’t just about severe storms and bitter cold — there’s still freezing rain and melting snow to grapple with.

Nasty thunderstorms will target the Ohio Valley on Thursday and could bring an inch-and-a-half of rain and create extreme flooding conditions in parts of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, according to forecasts. A flood watch has been issued across Illinois.

“The great melt has started,” National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Hirsch told NBC News.

Aside from the rain, warmer temperatures are moving in, which will speed the melt. Chicago, for instance, could hit a high of 50 degrees Thursday, forecasts say. The Windy City endured a 52-day stretch of below-freezing temperatures this winter, keeping the accumulated snow firmly in place.

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In areas across the Midwest and Ohio Valley, the extra snow on the ground is equivalent to an inch of water — and even more than 4 inches — in some places, according to The Weather Channel.

Western New York also faces flooding where ice jams along the lakes and rivers could cause water to spill over, Hirsch said.

The rain in the Ohio Valley is expected to move in just in time for Thursday morning’s commute, with winds reaching 20 to 30 miles per hour. The Mississippi Valley and Gulf Coast states could be similarly slammed. Tornadoes are also possibile, The Weather Channel reported.

The storm will then sweep across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast through Friday, bringing potentially dangerous winds.

— Erik Ortiz

Image: Evening commuters navigate melting snow and puddles Tuesday as they head home in Chicago.
Evening commuters navigate melting snow and puddles Tuesday as they head home in Chicago. Kiichiro Sato / AP